and Emigrants to America

Tupelo honey

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• –»  Tupelo Honey

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Tupelo is een stad in de Amerikaanse staat Mississippi gelegen in Lee County. De oorspronkelijke naam van de stad was Gumpond vanwege de vele rubberbomen die er groeien. In de Amerikaanse Burgeroorlog vond er nabij Tupelo een kleine veldslag plaats en na de oorlog werd de stad omgedoopt in de huidige naam.

The namesake for the album and its title track is a varietal honey produced from the flowers of the tupelo tree found in the Southeastern United States. The album features various musical genres, most prominently country, but also R&B, soul, folk-rock and blue-eyed soul. The lyrics echo the domestic bliss portrayed on the album cover; they largely describe and celebrate the rural surroundings of Woodstock and Morrison’s family life with then-wife Janet “Planet” Rigsbee.

Growing up in Northern Ireland, Van Morrison was fascinated by American rhythm-and-blues. Lending deep emotion and spiritual connection to his brand of “blue-eyed soul,” Morrison created a series of R&B-influenced records that were original statements as opposed to weak imitations. On the uplifting Tupelo Honey, he fused his R&B foundation with elements of folk, country, and gospel, producing an album of lasting impact. 

 After the opening rocker “Wild Night,”

Morrison runs through introspective and ethereal songs of love, family, and home such as “Old Old Woodstock” and the classic title cut. Most significant, however, are his country-flavored songs: The Celtic-tinged “I Wanna Roo You” and “Moonshine Whiskey” are carried by twangy steel guitar and folksy mandolin. “When That Evening Sun Goes Down” features rolling honky-tonk piano and the simple “Starting a New Life” harkens back to country music’s early days. 

Morrison’s blend of musical influences and his overall spiritual vision have never been conveyed as clearly or as effectively as they were on this album.

Put it in a big brown bag for me
Sail right around the seven oceans
Drop it straight into the deep blue sea
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee
You can’t stop us on the road to freedom
You can’t keep us ‘cause our eyes can see
Men with insight, men in granite
Knights in armor bent on chivalry
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

You can’t stop us on the road to freedom
You can’t stop us ‘cause our eyes can see
Men with insight, men in granite
Knights in armor intent on chivalry
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

You know she’s alright
You know she’s alright with me
She’s alright, she’s alright (she’s an angel)

You can take all the tea in China
Put it in a big brown bag for me
Sail it right around the seven oceans
Drop it smack dab in the middle of the deep blue sea
Because she’s as sweet as tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like the honey, baby, from the bee
She’s my baby, you know she’s alright…..

A posting to the Van mailing list May/96 notes the existence of a “lost verse” to this song, here
transcribed from a performance on the Van Morrison in Ireland video:

There’s a rose pressed inside a bible
That she reads on the balcony
She’s sweet in slumber and I’ve got her number
For the beginning of the century.
Van list member Art Siegel comments in Nov/97 that “I don’t think the rose in the bible is a true ‘lost
verse’, but rather one that Van added to his live performances years after the original. There is,
though, a true ‘lost verse’ which is in the original sheet music:”
I’ll tell a tale of old Manhattan
Adirondack bus to go
Standing waiting on my number
And my number’s gonna show.
The Dusty Springfield cover version on The Van Morrison Songbook CD has a variant of this:
I heard a tale of old Manhattan
I’ve never been there but I want to go
Standing waiting on my number
And my number’s gonna show.

Tupelo Honey is from the album, Tupelo Honey
Warner Bros., Recorded 1971